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Bin London: city hotbed for terrorist recruitment

Published time: April 26, 2011 13:49
Edited time: April 27, 2011 00:04

Britain has become a hotbed for terrorism, with extremist preachers and masterminds freely able to operate there. The news has come to light in the latest WikiLeak.

The secret files reveal that at least 35 Guantanamo detainees had been trained for terrorism in London mosques and suggest that an alleged al-Qaeda bomber worked as an informer for British intelligence.

Eighteen of these detainees that have reportedly come out of Britain were from abroad, 17 others were either British nationals or, the document said, they were asylum seekers from Arab countries who then filtered into the UK and received their training in London.

Most notably in the documents, Finsbury Park mosque was cited as an “attack planning propaganda production base,” and this was no news to the US military officials who drafted these documents. The mosque had been known as a very powerful training ground for many of those prisoners for quite a while.

The leaked documents raise a very big question – where were the security and government forces at the time that London gained such a strong reputation as being a hotbed for these training techniques? London had actually earned a nickname within the documents – “Londonistan.”

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

­An unlikely al-Qaeda propaganda mouthpiece

Other leaked documents make it clear that the US government suspected the BBC to be the “possible propaganda media network” for al-Qaeda, reports The Daily Telegraph. WikiLeaks files disclose that a phone number of an unidentified BBC employee was found in the phone books and phones of numerous GITMO detainees. The number has been said to belong to a journalist of the BBC World Service, which at that time was funded by the Foreign Office.

The documents also state that there were other extremist links to this phone number, suggesting that extremists could have made contact with BBC employees that have been sympathetic to extremists or could have had information on “ACM [anti-Coalition Militia] operations”.

The latest declassified documents also suggest the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is packed with innocent people and that is only going to add fuel to the flames for those who want it shut down.

­The unusual suspects

The Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs), written by the Department of Defense between 2002 and early 2009, are the center of attention at the moment. The White House spokesman stated that those briefs may or may not have the same significance to the administration now compared with four to five years ago.

“These DABs were written based on a range of information available then. Any given DAB illegally obtained and released by WikiLeaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee,” said the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, as cited by The Daily Telegraph. “The previous and current administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantanamo.”

Many of these people are cited as having been cooks, farmers and drivers who were put up for questioning and then kept at Guantanamo Bay.

The White House has stated that President Barack Obama still believes that it is very important to shut down the detention camp, but at the same time congress is making it very difficult when it comes to taking those prisoners out ant trying them on US soil.

As more details come out of these detainee assessment briefs it will be very interesting to see which way this argument goes and whether or not the 170 people still located at the prison will be moved out for trial or kept there.

Robin Simcox, who is a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, says the number of radical Islamists coming out of the UK is reaching a critical point.

When asked if radical extremism is a real threat in the UK he said: “It absolutely is. All we have to do is just look at the amount of convictions that have been in the UK courts, at the amount of suicide bombers that have either been in the UK or carried out suicide bombings abroad – the numbers are frightening.”

The WikiLeaks revelations come as no surprise to writer Phil Rees.

“I went to that Finsbury Park mosque, and it was open to people to attend, you could hear Abu Hamza, the preacher, who is now in jail, speaking about the duty of Muslims to help their brothers abroad – [those] living under occupation, for example, and this was referring of course to Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said. “Of course, it was not targeting Britain in any sense, but it was encouraging Muslims and reinforcing what in many ways the Koran says: that it is a duty to do jihad if part of the Muslim family is living under threat or living in hardship.”

Rees says that the security forces surely knew full well what was going on in that mosque, but at that time the West was working with Islamists.

“The man responsible for the first World Trade Center attack in 1993 was given a visa by the American embassy in Yemen to go and live in the United States,” he said. “These people had been there, under the eye – and indeed the agreement of – Western authorities throughout this period. It was really only after 2001 that their efforts were seen to be against Western policy and therefore an act of terrorism.”

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